Streamline Your Business-Building Processes with the BluWave Alpha Center

At BluWave, we understand the challenges that proactive business leaders face in finding and engaging with top-tier service providers. That’s why we’re excited to introduce the BluWave Alpha Center, a cutting-edge portal designed to streamline your third-party sourcing, project management and data insights processes.

This AI-driven platform empowers private equity firms, portfolio companies, and private and public businesses to stay ahead of the curve and be at the forefront of modern value creation.

“We are excited to introduce the BluWave Alpha Center, a game-changing platform that empowers private equity firms to accelerate their business-building efforts,” said Sean Mooney, a former PE deal partner and BluWave’s founder and CEO.

Enhanced Collaboration for Maximum Efficiency

Collaborating effectively across teams is crucial in today’s fast-paced business landscape. With the BluWave Alpha Center, you can ensure that your entire team is on the same page. Our platform provides a centralized hub for insights, intelligence and white-glove service, facilitating seamless teamwork. From tracking evaluation processes to scheduling meetings, the Alpha Center simplifies collaboration, ensuring that everyone is working toward a common goal.

Accelerate Your Project Kickoff

In the private equity industry, time is of the essence. The Alpha Center enables you to kick off searches to get connected with the exact PE-grade third parties you require at the exact time you need them. By accessing your Alpha Center account, you can submit high-level criteria to our Research & Operations team and schedule scoping calls with ease. Our best-in-class third-party resources are just a few clicks away, allowing you to accelerate your project kickoff and make progress at the speed of private equity.

Efficient Project Management Made Easy

Managing projects efficiently is key to achieving success. The Alpha Center provides powerful project management tools that simplify the process and enable you to make informed decisions faster. Evaluate service providers, manage onboarding processes and track progress from initial review to contract signings all within a single platform.

This streamlines your project management, saves time and ensures that your deal processes stay on track, aligning with your key objectives and improving outcomes.

Centralized Data Management for Better Insights

Data management is often a challenge, with valuable information scattered across different platforms. The Alpha Center acts as a comprehensive repository, bringing together all your project insights into one place. Catalog projects undertaken through BluWave, access information on providers and capture feedback on past performance.

This centralized tool ensures that you can easily search and share valuable insights across your organization, reconnect with previously vetted resources and facilitate informed decision-making.

Real-Time Insights and Market Comparisons

Stay informed and benchmark your performance with real-time insights and market comparisons. The Alpha Center provides dynamic quarterly updates and detailed reports on project trends, the Value Creation Index and rising priorities in the industry.

Compare your personalized dashboard with these insights to ensure that you’re aligned with the market and leveraging the full potential of your third-party engagements.

The BluWave Alpha Center is more than just a platform – it’s a game-changer for private equity firms and businesses looking to optimize their business-building processes. With enhanced collaboration, accelerated project kickoff, efficient project management, centralized data management and real-time insights, the Alpha Center empowers you to make informed decisions, drive value and stay ahead of the competition.

“We’ve been working with a group of top PE firm beta users, taking their feedback and updating what will be a continually evolving resource,” BluWave Head of Technology & Insights Houston Slatton says. “We’re excited to support existing clients and welcome new ones to the next generation of BluWave.”

Discover the power of the BluWave Alpha Center by scheduling a demo today and unlock the full potential of your business-building strategies.

Sean Mooney on the Thrive LouD podcast

Recently, BluWave founder & CEO, Sean Mooney, spoke with Lou Diamond on his Thrive LouD podcast. Their conversation covered Sean’s story, how he got into private equity, how he transitioned into founding BluWave, what BluWave does, and much more.

Interested in listening to the full episode to learn how BluWave now supports the best business builders in the world? Click below.

Gain more insights from Sean by listening to our very own Karma School of Business podcast.

You can also glean more wisdom from Sean through other podcasts he has been a guest on, including:

If we can help you be successful by quickly connecting you to the PE-grade, pre-vetted, third parties you need, give us a shout.

Sean Mooney on The Capital Club

Recently, BluWave founder & CEO, Sean Mooney, spoke with Brian C. Adams, founder of Excelsior Capital, on The Capital Club podcast. On the podcast, their conversation covered the private equity industry and how there is currently a struggle to find quality assets, how PE is embracing technology to address labor shortages, and COVID’s impact on the industry.

Interested in listening to this episode of The Capital Club? Click below.
Gain more insights from Sean on PE by listening to our very own Karma School of Business podcast.

You can also glean more wisdom from Sean through other podcasts he has been a guest on, including:

If we can help you be successful by quickly connecting you to the PE-grade, pre-vetted, third parties you need, give us a shout.


Podcast Transcript:

Brian Adams: [00:00:30] Hello and welcome to the Excelsior Capital Club podcast. I have with me today Sean Mooney. Sean is the founder and CEO of BluWave, an Intelligent Marketplace trusted by more than 500 of the world’s top private equity firms, leading family offices, and thousands of proactive businesses to connect them with best-in-class third-party resources they need for due diligence, value creation, and preparing for sale.

Sean founded BluWave as a solution [00:01:00] to a problem he faced every day while in the private equity industry for nearly 20 years. Sean, thanks for joining us.

Sean Mooney: Brian, it’s great to be here with you.

BA: Good to see you, man. And if we act casual on the show, it’s because Sean and I know each other socially. We both live in Nashville, our kids go to school together, and we bump into each other at a lot of events. And I’ve been thinking about having him on for a while, so I’m glad we could finally do it.

And you were maybe an early wave of a lot of these [00:01:30] private equity folks moving from New York and elsewhere to Nashville. Before we get into kind of the core of the business, I’d love to hear your commentary on what led you to that choice to move to town, and how that experience has been, and what you’re seeing especially within the asset management, ALTS, private equity, family office world of this influx of capital and personnel into the middle-Tennessee region.

SM: Absolutely. So I moved to Nashville almost six years ago, which now makes me almost [00:02:00] as local as anyone, I expect. And now my big fear is all the people like me moving here can totally ruin this place. So we want to be the last ones in, but Nashville has been everything we ever hoped it could be.

The people are amazing, the food is great. It’s albeit a heavier dining experience, which caused me to probably put on some weight I had to lose eventually.

But we moved here really to start a business and to seek, in some ways, a better life, or at least an easier [00:02:30] one, even though we came from a place that we really loved. We were living in Darien, Connecticut. And my wife grew up in Connecticut, and we absolutely, I think, appreciated where we came from but thought there’s maybe a way to change the dynamic.

And then really as a result of wanting to start a company and be an entrepreneur, we had this idea that it would be pretty expensive to start a business in New York. And so I did a market study, and that’s why we’re here. I looked at columns on a spreadsheet, one of which said “fun,” [00:03:00] and I think my wife said, “You’re taking all the fun out of this, can we do it some other way?” But it worked.

BA: And it’s been just tremendous to see it. I’ve been here 15 years. My wife’s a local native, and it’s wild. And I don’t think it’s going to change anytime soon. So yeah, you’re definitely old school. Six years qualifies as an OG these days.

Let’s get into the business and your journey there by starting with this question, because, not to age you, but you’ve been in private equity for a while now. Is [00:03:30] private equity taking over the world?

SM: It’s a very good question. I don’t know that it’s taking over the world, but it’s certainly representative of the economy and a major force in the economy. There are, depending how you calculate it, 5,000 private equity funds in the US alone. There are hundreds of billions of dollars of dry capital. They’re investing across the economy, and it’s moved from, and maybe evolved from, an industry that was in some ways, [00:04:00] in the early days, as much about arbitrage, where you could invest in an asset in maybe a way that was less efficient. You could optimize the company and then sell it more efficiently through an investment banker process. The industry, like anything where there’s great opportunity, has matured quite substantially, which means they’re buying it and investing it at the intersection much closer to supply and demand.

Which means in terms of its impact on the world, [00:04:30] whether it’s altruistic or selfishly altruistic, they’re now transforming companies, in some ways because they have to. And so they’re fundamentally making these businesses bigger, better, more people, more innovation, because the economics of the industry and econ 101 is compelling them to do so.

So it’s in every pocket of the industry, and I think they’re having a pretty meaningful impact on the US economy, but also global economy, in terms of growth and development.

BA: Do you think it’s positive [00:05:00] there are so fewer publicly traded companies, or companies are waiting longer to go public? I know I’ve heard criticism on both sides of the dial that private equity is a very powerful force for job creation, value creation, that a lot of these companies that were public were zombies or living on debt and weren’t actually creating value for stakeholders or shareholders.

What’s your review there on what is certainly something we’ve seen [00:05:30] play out pretty dramatically over the last five or 10 years?

SM: Yeah, I think the private equity industry evolved really because of the in-between for companies that were smaller than those who could go public. And you go back to the roots of the industry, your options as a business builder and owner was to borrow bank debt. If you happened to be on the West Coast, you could get venture capital, or if you got big enough you could go public, or you could sell your entire company to another company.

[00:06:00] And the early developers and builders of the industry realized there had to be a middle market where smaller to middle-market, or medium, to even big-size companies could access capitals in the way that weren’t available at public companies.

I think where private equity has an advantage is they can think further out. One of the trappings, as you talk with people who run public companies, is that they fall victim to this quarterly cadence, where they have to make someone happy every single quarter. [00:06:30] And so their decisions become quite tactical, because that’s where the incentives are.

The private equity businesses I think in some ways are liberated from that, because they can think three to 10 years ahead and make decisions that are probably more chess-like than checkers-like.

BA: So as you referenced, private equity has matured dramatically and continues to. I think your company is evidence of that, in terms of you’re an advisory consulting firm for this [00:07:00] niche industry, so you’re like a niche consultant for a niche industry, which is just how deep this ecosystem goes.

I want to tie in the family office world. I’ve had a lot of conversations with folks in that space that say that family offices are a superior investment solution to even private equity. You said private equity, long-term hold, not beholden to quarter-to-quarter reporting numbers, but families seem to be able to take [00:07:30] it to that next step where they have a 50-, maybe 100-year time horizon, super flexible capital.

Are you seeing family offices behave more like private equity funds and private equity funds behaving more like family offices? There almost seems to be a crossing of the streams in that regard.

SM: I think you’re absolutely right, and if you look at some of the criticism of private equity and in the world as they say, “Well, they’re horizon maybe is too short. They’re looking for three-year [00:08:00] periods. Why aren’t they looking to build seven, eight, nine, 10 years?”

And then the family offices will say, “Hey, we have 100-year perspectives. We have a multi-generational perspective,” but maybe they can’t bring the same resources to bear that a mechanized private equity fund can. And I think it’s a very great observation that you had, that they’re kind of starting to meet in the middle, where private equity firms are starting to have longer time horizons, and family offices are starting to want to make direct investments themselves.

[00:08:30] And in some ways businesses like BluWave evolved to serve both those needs. When I was in private equity for almost 20 years, we had to transform these companies. We had to use third parties. Third parties were really hard to use, because every need was different. And I had nowhere to go other than having very expensive, highly educated people Google “problem in industry” and call buddies, and that’s how we found the resources we would use. I said, “Why isn’t there like a [00:09:00] Yelp or an Amazon for business?” And that’s what we created. So it’s this magic toolbox for business builders, where they can go to one place to get the very best for everything they need.

In the same vein, family offices are using us because they want to be able to make direct investments, and they don’t have the mechanized teams that private equity can. So they come to us and say, “What are the groups that I can use to very effectively assess a company in diligence, [00:09:30] but then also build the company with a long horizon period of time, where maybe slower but steadier wins the race? And maybe it’s not the fastest way to run, but it’s the most certain path to build this company to something transformational.”

And so both of these groups are also coming to us for the same resources but for, in some ways, different reasons.

BA: And have you seen, now that the wealth creation has been so immense, call it the last five [00:10:00] or 10 years, especially within the tech world. Some of these family offices seem to be behaving like just typical private equity firms in many ways. They have an internal deal team, they have a CIO, they have a CEO, whole full C-suite built out including Tech Stack. And what I’ve been hearing more and more of is that they are competing directly with, not only the old wirehouses, but the larger private equity firms and venture capital firms, for deals and talent.

Could [00:10:30] you maybe provide some commentary on what you’re hearing and seeing from your clients to that regard?

SM: 100%. So there are a number of family offices that have kind of mechanized their capabilities, particularly the families where they have knowhow from the businesses that they’ve built, whether they currently have an operating company or they did have an operating company, and you had a family office, patriarch, matriarch, who really had a lifetime of building businesses. So there’s a lot of knowhow [00:11:00] within these companies.

And so they’re building out teams to do that. And I think they also in some ways view the world through the word “and” versus “or”. So it’s not like they’re not also investing in GPs, because they’re still doing that. And they’re also co-investing with GPs, which is a great way to get started in direct investing, by the way, is co-invest with the GPs where you already have relationships, where you can get that direct investment and see maybe a little bit how the process works.

But they’re also building their own [00:11:30] teams, and they’re doing it through a comprehensive asset-allocation model where they can do kind of A, B and C versus A or B or C.

BA: So along those lines, in terms of your firm and how you work, you have a multifaceted business, but when it comes to the deals, say M&A, direct investing, who are the groups that are getting it right and why? And then obviously the flip side, what [00:12:00] are the potholes that people keep stepping into that don’t allow them to successfully invest directly into this M&A space?

SM: It’s really interesting from the vantage of BluWave, because we work with more than 500 of the top private equity funds across the country. And I kind of joke with my friends who are still in PE, I was pretty good at what I did when I was in PE. I was a partner at a really top-notch fund in New York.

There were certainly others who were [00:12:30] better than me, but I was pretty good. And I kind of joke to them, after seeing over years and years how 500 PE firms do things, I’d be almost like Neo if I ever came back to PE, where I’d see the ones and zeros cascading down, seeing the world in slow motion.

But there is a pattern to what we see in terms of really top-notch PE firms. And one of the things that we do as part of our firm is we have this Karma School of Business, where we just try to do good things with good people. [00:13:00] And we started having LPs coming to us saying, whether it’s family officers or institutional investors saying, “What do you see? What are the patterns of really good firms that we should look for?”

And we thought, “Why don’t we just put it out there and say, ‘Here’s what we look for,'” and then recognize those who we think do it really well? And so we came up with a list of top PE innovators, a group of 50 firms that all do it really well.

And we really look for four things, or things that we kind of notice that are [00:13:30] differential and innovative in PE. One, it’s the PE firms that recognize that the business of PE has to be run like a business and less like a partnership.

And so they’re treating their business as if there’s a front end, there’s a back end, there’s operations, there’s marketing, there’s sales, everything that they would’ve run one of their own portfolio companies with. And there are companies that are starting to do that really well within private equity.

Two, they look at due diligence with an eye towards [00:14:00] transformation in equipping value-creation plans. And so when I started in PE, so much of the world was about trust and verify. Are the seller’s representations correct with what the business actually is? Check the numbers, make sure they’re paying for their Microsoft licenses, maybe there’s air conditioning in the server closet.

Now, it’s how do we fundamentally change this company, turn it into something that it was never intended to be, because we’re paying a nearly perfect price [00:14:30] for an imperfect business? Where it was exactly opposite when I was coming up in PE. And so they’re starting with the fact that they’re going to fundamentally make a bigger and better, more valuable business.

And then next, we look at companies that really are proactive in value creation. And they’re saying, “We’re going to not only find things out, but do something about it in partnership with the leadership teams in our portfolio companies.”

And then lastly, the thing that we think is really important is the concept of ESG. It’s this idea that you can have broccoli [00:15:00] with cheese on it; you can do good things for the business that also align with things that are good for the world, and they don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

And so there are businesses, a lot of the PE firms are doing a lot of these great things. And in some ways they’re just not getting credit for it, because they didn’t know that they could categorize the stuff that they’re already doing, falls within this concept called ESG, which is getting more and more clarity as time goes on.

So I don’t know if that addresses it, but that’s kind of how we looked at it internally, at least have recognized those who do it well.

BA: [00:15:30] And in terms of these red flags, things that maybe when you put your consultant advisory hat on, if somebody listening is considering investing with a group or evaluating a direct co-investment opportunity, what are some warning signs that you see that over and over again lead to poor results?

SM: Yeah, it’s a really good question. And part of the challenge is that the cliche in private equity [00:16:00] is you’ve seen one private equity fund, you’ve see one private equity fund. And so I think rather than saying red flags, I would look for groups that do those four things, and they treat their business like a business. They know that you have to be hands on in both diligence and value creation, and then you’re tracking the things you’re doing that are holistically improving companies.

If they’re not doing those four things, that would almost be my red flag. If they’re not meeting those standards or if they’re not making steps towards doing [00:16:30] that, then I would probably want to dig deeper.

BA: You referenced a big number in terms of the number of private equity funds active today and the capital behind them. I’ve always wondered, I mean I go to these networking events, and I have a lot of friends who are GP sponsors. How can the ecosystem support as many lower-middle-market buyout firms as there are in the world? And how do multiples in valuations [00:17:00] sustain that investment thesis?

SM: Another great question. In some ways econ 101 is playing out of the industry. And what’s kind of telling is the business… this is kind of anecdotal. When I started in the industry in the late ’90s, early 2000s in PE, our base case models would start in the thirties, in terms of 30% IRRs.

And then when I spun out to pursue this entrepreneurial dream here, my models were [00:17:30] in the low twenties, high teens. And in some ways you say, “Wow, that’s a lot of efficiency that’s become part of the ecosystem as the industry’s matured.” And every industry matures over time.

And it’s easy for me to say that’s a huge decline and everything’s relative. But at the end of the day, the industry is still pretty much beating every benchmark. And so for me, when I came in, I remember I was like, “Wow, I wish I was 10 years older.” It was [00:18:00] like when you’re a junior in the industry and the economics don’t really fall to you. And then every 10 years I would say, “I wish I were 10 years older.” And I think what I came to appreciate is it’s still really good, it’s just not what it used to be.

And so it’s kind of like traffic in Nashville. For those who moved here from New York, where it was rush day, I-95 was always packed. Whereas when I moved to Nashville with I-65, it’s really still a rush hour. And so both are still, the rush hour is still [00:18:30] pretty good, it’s just not what it used to be.

And so I think there’s still plenty of interesting economics in the industry. It’s just not what it used to be. But then again, it’s also a lot more accessible to a broader pool of investors, whereas in the early days, it was really a pretty small ecosystem that was not only exclusive to being in the industry, but also to those who could invest in it. So I guess it’s two sides of the coin.

BA: So we’re recording this heading into the second half of the year 2022. What are the investing themes that you see going on internally with GPs right now, and then what is exciting LPs [00:19:30] in terms of opportunity, thesis, et cetera?

SM: Obviously the big thing that is on everyone’s mind right now is this kind of triple play of economic pressures associated with Asia, Ukraine, inflation, and Federal Reserve policy trying to land playing and taking inflation down, after being at historic highs. And so the industry is, first and foremost, I think, getting [00:20:00] selective.

The PE world understands that they need to invest throughout economic cycles, and I think they’re very good at that, but they are looking at quality assets, and so the quality assets are still absolutely trading and active. PE firms themselves though, they’re saying, “We’re going to be more selective and maybe not lean as far out on our skis as we would’ve three years ago, because the opportunity to de-lever in between and professionalize, the runway’s just a little shorter.”

The one [00:20:30] thing that I think the PE industry is really good at, though, and we’ll be presenting data in the not-too-near future that kind of demonstrates this, is they’re really good at running towards the storm versus running away. And so when they see economic challenges, they view it as an opportunity by being able to use what they’re really good at. They’re able to quickly grab information, assimilate it, make decisions, and then act on it, [00:21:00] and use that to their advantage. While others maybe kind of circle wagons and maybe cower in the face of the storm, they run towards it.

So a lot of the PE firms that we talk with are saying, “This is a time for opportunity, where we can maybe invest at better multiples. Maybe we can consolidate market segments where competitors will be available. We can bring talent in that historically was never available and suddenly they are because people [00:21:30] are letting people go. We can grab and expand in segments and bring in other products while people are maybe retracting.”

And I think all of this comes from that longer perspective, but also the agility and the proactiveness of the industry. And so I think that’s one of the reasons why you see the big institutional money liking it, because they’re really good at generating returns through the peaks and troughs.

BA: Let’s talk about human talent, human capital. That’s part of your business is finding the right professionals [00:22:00] for the right groups. How fierce is that competition right now, and have you seen compensation packages? Where are they relative to the last 20 years of your experience?

SM: Yeah, it’s everywhere. It’s funny. Well, not funny. It’s interesting. We have forums where we’ll bring cohorts of PE together, and we just had one. And almost every one we do, the topic is human capital.

And one of the main topics of the day that we were all discussing was [00:22:30] one of the biggest inflationary pressures in the entire economy right now is labor wages. And that doesn’t get nearly the credit that oil and other kind of commodities do.

Labor wages have gone up substantially, in part because there’s scarcity of labor, but all the costs that every day all of us are experiencing, our team members and employees have to bear that too. So the companies have to pass those on so our own employees can kind of keep up.

And so [00:23:00] that’s something that I think where you have a combination of people who have left the labor force, so there’s fewer people in it, you have inflationary pressures that are going all the way down to inflation, it’s hard to push labor wages onto customers, if you will.

So the pressure is everywhere, and it’s certainly going all the way to even the private equity professionals, investment banking professionals, attorneys. Everyone is feeling it right now, just like I think any other industry is. And they’re doing what they [00:23:30] can to communicate things like total rewards, like all the other good things that come with being in a great company.

And the other thing that’s been really kind of fascinating to watch within private equity is this concept of culture. When I came up, I’ll profess, it wasn’t something that people really focused on. It was a bunch of type-A-plus people who took hills, and they would take that hill every time they needed to, but they didn’t think about the work experience.

So in some ways it’s been a positive on the industry, because the industry’s really [00:24:00] leaning in and appreciating things like corporate values and cultures, even within the firms themselves. And that’s another way they’re addressing it, which net-net, I think is going to be a catalyst for really good. And not only that industry but throughout the economy.

BA: One of the things I wanted to talk to you about was this generational shift happening amongst GPs. I like how you talked about how the best-in-class private equity groups treat their companies like the businesses they own and less like an old-school partnership.

I won’t name names, but I’ve seen and experienced [00:24:30] some divorces and blowups happening in Nashville, because they cannot manage through this transition of first-generation GP to a second-generation GP. And I would assume it’s only going to accelerate as these Baby Boomers get older and try to figure out what to do.

What are you seeing in terms of that dynamic playing out amongst your clients? How are people addressing it? Is it creating opportunity? Is it a risk that LPs need to be aware of, et cetera?

SM: [00:25:00] It’s another very timely topic in private equity. And if you ask why are there 5,000 private equity firms, in part, the point that you’re talking about, Ryan, is one of the primary reasons. The firms that started in the industry G1 or G1.5 of PE, they didn’t have these continuity plans in place.

And so ultimately, you would get this kind of tectonic pressure between junior partners and the founding partners. And [00:25:30] what would happen eventually is the junior partners would get fed up and they’d found a fund, and they’d bring out their own fund. And then they’d start their own fund and they don’t do the same thing. And then there’s the junior and senior partner tectonic pressure, and then their junior partners spin out.

And so this has been the circle of life and private equity for a long time. And I think what’s happening, everyone’s seen this movie enough times now that we’re really starting to see a lot of the GPs being thoughtful about this. And it’s really [00:26:00] kind of these next-gen PE firms that have maybe seen it happen a couple of times, where they’re putting transition continuity plans in place.

The other things that are happening is you have some of these funds that are able to come in that are almost like secondary funds and take positions in GPs that facilitate those transitions.

And so they’re taking some of the economic pressure off of the founders to let them kind of monetize this franchise that they’ve built and want to be rewarded for that, while also allowing [00:26:30] new junior partners to come up. So it’s a very important topic. It’s something that I think the industry is getting better at, but still needs to make progress on as they realize that they’re in the business of a business, and not the business of a partnership, particularly if they want continuity and a sustaining legacy of a firm.

BA: You were really good during COVID about being communicative, transparent. You have a great newsletter that I want to call out at the end of the show as well. And [00:27:00] you were really good about being engaged during COVID. I read all your stuff; it was terrific.

Now with the benefit of hindsight, what were some of the things that forced the industry to improve because of COVID? And what are some of the negative implications of that two-year span, hopefully, that you’ve seen remain in the industry?

SM: Yeah, it’s a complicated question. There’s a lot of things that came out of, like anything [00:27:30] in crisis, that end up being very positive. I think that the single biggest shift that we saw take place is this kind of embracement of the complexity of humanity. As labor shortages were driven and everyone was kind of broken apart into these little square boxes on Zoom, people had to figure things out. They had to figure out things like culture. They had to figure out things like how to keep people engaged.

So if we [00:28:00] look at this kind of engine at BluWave, in the beginning of 2018, 17% of the projects that came through the BluWave marketplace were related to human capital And in the first quarter of 2022, 42% of the projects were. And so the private equity industry, I think, is very much investing in it.

And so the hottest hire in all of private equity is head of human capital. And so they’re realizing that you have to holistically manage the people side and bring this kind of humanity to an industry [00:28:30] that’s been kind of a dollars-and-cents industry. And not because they meant to be unfocused on it; there were just other things that were kind of gaining mindshare. And so I think that’s one of the biggest things.

The other thing: I think it really calmed their ability to manage through a crisis. And so, one of the things I alluded to earlier is what we saw in our data. We see very interesting data that comes through these projects that you can discern trends through. I think they learn [00:29:00] to be incredibly even more agile in bringing methodologies of dealing with tough times and managing through them. And so I think that’s something that’s also been very positive.

As you think about super trends, crises in some ways catalyze these things that never quite got going but were always kind of bubbling up.

And so two super trends that I think PE has really gotten behind that were always, like everyone said was the next thing, always has been, always will be, is, one, digitization. [00:29:30] And so we’re really seeing groups jump in and realize that you don’t need to have people typing stuff in. You can digitize things, you can automate things, you can let the robots do the stuff that robots are good at and have the people do the things that people like doing.

So we saw a lot of embracement about technology that not only becomes more efficient, but I think it improves satisfaction within the team members, because they get to do the things that they like doing, that humans like doing.

The other thing that’s really catalyzed I think in this, is the whole concept of analytics. It really [00:30:00] caused the really good firms to dive into their data to help make decisions, and realize that if you have good data, you can make better decisions. And if you rapidly iterate around it, you can make very interesting decisions about business and life, et cetera.

And so those were some of the things that really, I think, catalyzed, and the super trends that became trends not only in PE, but elsewhere.

And so I’ll pause there. I don’t know if that kind of addresses it, and we can do the flip side of the coin as well.

BA: Yeah, no, I think [00:30:30] seeing the same thing play out in my industry in terms of real estate, pretty-old school traditional business. And COVID taught all of us that we can do much more digitally, we can do much more automated, and you realize that you can spend your time more strategically for highest and best use of the enterprise.

So let’s go to the other side. I mean, what are some things that maybe you’ve seen change because of COVID that are negative for the industry, or you’re [00:31:00] not especially excited about?

SM: I think the biggest challenge that everyone is working through is how do you learn how to operate in this hybrid world that has evolved. Particularly industries like private equity, investment banking, legal professions, they very much have apprenticeship models, where you need lots and lots and lots of laps around the track to learn things, and there’s a pattern recognition.

I think a lot of the industry is struggling [00:31:30] to equip the more up-and-coming professionals with that apprenticeship, and they’ve kind of lost out. And the hard thing that I think everyone’s dealing with is what’s that right middle ground. Because in some ways, there’s a lot that’s come out of that’s great about this hybrid model, where you don’t have to be maybe cutting out a lot of face time.

On the flip side, people I think are having a lot of mental health issues, because when you work at home, you live at work. And so finding that [00:32:00] right balance is something that I think everyone in PE is struggling with. But I think probably everywhere in the world is right now.

And so the big transition that will be very interesting to see how it takes place is where that kind of shakes out. I think you’re also seeing a lot of firms realize that, I think too often people view the world through binary lenses. You’re either going to be fully virtual or fully in person. It’s that [00:32:30] in-between that’s going to make the difference.

And I think a lot of firms that have at least have found that balance are getting a real competitive advantage, because they’re getting people collaborating, seeing people, and able to find that instant feedback loop a little more beneficial while also getting the benefits of some of the hybrid models.

BA: Many of the larger financial services folks globally have proclaimed that globalization has peaked, and now we’re [00:33:00] in an era of deglobalization. When you talk to private equity groups, GPs and sponsors and big LPs, are they seeing that, feeling it? Do you believe that?

SM: Yeah, I think where I would characterize it is the pendulum is, once again, it’s not going to be globalization or not. I think like everything, we always see the pendulum swings way too far one way, and then goes the other.

What COVID has catalyzed [00:33:30] in so many people of mind is supply chain dependency. And particularly when you’re dependent on another country’s kind of posture as it relates to open or closed, and you have to get things eight weeks on the water, and then you can’t get them through the port, people have really appreciated that you can’t have an n=1 supply chain, because then you get these huge systematic shifts that come in and you’re left with nothing to provide, because the just-in-time nature of all these supply [00:34:00] chains has kind of exposed these really, really dramatic weaknesses in this global ecosystem that we’ve built.

And so I think what you’re seeing is a lot of people saying we have to have more of a portfolio approach. We can’t just leave China. China is one of the world’s growing fastest growing markets, and has been and will be increasingly important, but you can’t have everything over there.

You can’t, in the same vein, you can’t have everything here. It’s this idea of maybe spreading [00:34:30] your chips a little bit and playing more of a risk-adjusted game than being wholly dependent on things.

BA: You put out, I’ve referenced this before, a terrific newsletter, and one of my favorite parts is the comfort food is good, but the life hacks are great. You have any favorites yourselves, or did you get outside feedback on a few versus the others?

SM: It’s so funny. On these newsletters, the single biggest thing that gets engaged with is the life hacks.

BA: Totally. Yeah, it’s great.

SM: So during [00:35:00] COVID, one of my big accomplishments that I was proud about was that apparently I sold out the entire country of inflatable movie screens for your backyard. In all these life hacks there’s no economic interest in it. It’s just things that I think are cool and interesting, and I’ve always been a curious person. And to be very clear, I don’t make any money on these things, it’s just things that I like.

And so the inflatable movie screen was a really popular one in the summer of 2020. This [00:35:30] year, people are traveling again right now. I found this little gizmo that clicks onto the tray of the plane in front of you, where you can hold your iPhone and watch a TV show. It’s like 12 or 13 bucks on Amazon. It’s great. Every time I’m on a plane, some people ask me what that is.

BA: I love it.

SM: I guess with the two things with summer coming is my tips. One is for steaks. For those of you who like steaks, there’s a concept called the reverse sear. [00:36:00] And so if you Google that on the Internet, it’ll show you this amazing way to cook a perfectly, whatever temperature steak you like. Medium rare is what I prefer.

And so what you do is you slowly cook it at low temperatures on your, I use a Big Green Egg. And if you do that, you take it up to temperature very slowly, and then you sear it at the very end to get that caramelization from the Maillard effect that people really like. And so if you really want an amazing steak this summer, look up the reverse [00:36:30] sear.

And then the other thing that I’ve added to my game, care of my wife, is this little Breville smoke gun, and you can put these little smoke tips in them, and you can kind of add a smoke essence to any food, but you can also put them in a summer cocktail and make it taste a little smoky. And it’s just a cool gizmo, and it adds some theater to whatever you’re making if you have people over and you can show them, fire up this gizmo, and it’s really kind of a lot of fun.

BA: Love it. Love it. And [00:37:00] I own a Traeger, and the reverse sear, it’s like the amateur Green Egg, but-

SM: The Traegers are legit.

BA: But it works. It works. It does work.

Sean, I want to thank you for the time. It’s been awesome. Like I said, definitely want people to check out the newsletter, the site. If you’re at all involved with private equity, you need to connect with Sean’s firm, because they know everybody, and they’re doing incredibly good work.

If people are interested engaging with you and the firm, what’s the best way for them to get in touch?

SM: So you can find us [00:37:30] on the Internet at You can also find me on LinkedIn. We’re incredibly responsive. Anytime you need us, we’re here to help. And if you’re from Darien, Connecticut, you might recognize the name of our company.

BA: As a lacrosse player, I knew it right away. I definitely recognized it. So BluWave, I love it.

Sean, thank you so much for the time. This is great, and I wish you the best [00:38:00] of luck. I hope you have an awesome summer, and I’m sure I’ll bump into you in town, soon.

SM: Brian, thanks so much. I look forward to catching up with you sooner than later.

Top 50 Private Equity Innovator Awards | 2022

We are pleased to announce the inaugural 2022 Top 50 Private Equity Innovator Awards, an award recognizing firms that represent the top 1% in the private equity industry as determined by BluWave for their innovative practices in:*

  • Proactive Due Diligence Practices
  • Transformative Value Creation
  • Progressive Private Equity Firm Operations
  • ESG

The BluWave Top 50 Private Equity Innovator Award recipients were selected based upon a rigorous assessment in consultation with leading limited partners, investment bankers and other thought leaders in the private equity ecosystem. Partnering with more than 500 leading private equity firms, we have a unique perspective that enables us to understand best practices and innovation in the private equity industry.

“Private equity is a driving force in the economy, supporting the growth and development of virtually every type of business and providing more than 11 million jobs in America,” says Sean Mooney, Founder and CEO, BluWave. “We congratulate these top 50 private equity firms that are taking uniquely innovative approaches to building businesses and creating sustainable value for a wide range of stakeholders.”

BluWave also recognizes Lexington, Kentucky headquartered MiddleGround Capital with the Innovator of the Year Award due to the company’s achievements across due diligence, value creation, PE firm operations, and ESG. MiddleGround makes control equity investments in B2B industrial and specialty distribution businesses. The firm was founded by John Stewart, Lauren Mulholland, and Scot Duncan in 2018. MiddleGround partners with small and mid-sized businesses, providing extensive operational resources to help them build and grow. The firm is a signatory to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, which provides a framework for investing responsibly and integrating ESG practices into investment practices.

You can discover further information on the BluWave 2022 Top 50 Private Equity Innovator Awards, including the selection process, selection criteria, and recipients, here.


*BluWave, LP has not received investment capital from and holds no ownership interest in the PE firms evaluated or recognized under the Top 50 PE Innovator awards program. BluWave received no compensation from any of the PE firms in connection with this awards program. However, BluWave may otherwise provide services to the PE firms and/or portfolio companies, but BluWave confirms that its assessment of the PE firms was independent of any such service arrangements. Top 1% in the PE industry is based on BluWave’s review of the more than 5,000 PE firms in the U.S. and Canada from which 50 PE firms were selected as award recipients.

Sean Mooney on The Private Equity Podcast

Recently, BluWave founder & CEO, Sean Mooney, spoke with Alex Rawlings on The Private Equity Podcast about how PE firms and their portfolio companies can develop better communication and therefore better relationships. They discussed common mistakes by PE firms and portcos, how PE investors can better connect with portcos, how to select the best service providers, and more. They also discussed insights into the private equity industry and what Sean misses from his PE partner days.

Interested in listening to the whole podcast yourself? Click below.

Check out some of the other podcasts Sean has shared his wisdom on, including Private Equity Funcast, Growth Think Tank, & Middle Market Musings.

If we can help you be successful by quickly connecting you to the PE-grade, pre-vetted, third parties you need, give us a shout.


Sean Mooney on the Growth Think Tank Podcast

Recently, BluWave founder & CEO, Sean Mooney, spoke with Gene Hammett on the Growth Think Tank podcast about what we at BluWave call the Karma School of Business. They discussed BluWave, what the first few years were like as Sean was growing the business, and the important leadership value of helping others be successful. Sean shares with Gene a practical example of how during COVID, we at BluWave saw a focus on helping others lead to dramatic growth. They also discuss other important leadership concepts, including knowing when to hire the right people and learning to let others take on responsibilities you have held in the past.

Interested in listening to the whole podcast yourself? Click below.

Check out some of the other podcasts Sean has shared his wisdom on, including Private Equity Funcast, The Use Case Podcast, & Middle Market Musings.

If we can help you be successful by quickly connecting you to the PE-grade, pre-vetted, third parties you need, give us a shout.


Sean Mooney on the Middle Market Musings Podcast

Recently, BluWave founder & CEO, Sean Mooney, spoke with Andy Greenberg and Charlie Gifford on the Middle Market Musings podcast about the origin of BluWave and the general trends that they all have observed recently in the private equity industry. Charlie and Andy asked Sean about how BluWave was born out of his time in the private equity industry and also drilled into the particulars of the business model. Gifford, Greenberg, and Mooney also spoke to trends such as higher valuations, compressed returns, greater industry specialization, and heightened pressure to capture growth and operational improvement that have been noticeable in the market as of late.

Interested in listening to the whole podcast yourself? Click below.


BluWave’s exponential growth accelerates as they surpass 500 private equity firm clients

Nashville, TN (September 9, 2021) – Following its recent Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies listing, private equity industry solutions provider BluWave has announced another company milestone: surpassing the 500-client mark. Fueled by an Intelligent Network of over 3,000 advisors, interim executives, and specialized groups with expertise in value creation and due diligence, BluWave currently serves some of the top PE funds and their portfolio companies in the U.S. and abroad.

Founded by Sean Mooney in 2016, BluWave’s PE-focused solutions are rooted in nearly 20 years of his private equity experience, where he continually faced challenges associated with quickly sourcing the exact-fit, third-party, expert resources he needed. In the past two years, with the disruption of the pandemic followed by the “great resignation”, funds and companies are facing new challenges including dealing with scarcity across all areas coupled with increased risk when resources aren’t deployed effectively and efficiently.

“We’ve certainly seen an increase in demand since the beginning of 2020, and my original premise for BluWave has hit an important inflection point,” says Mooney. “At the root of all this growth is a radical commitment to people—knowing how to solve problems via human ingenuity combined with data and our deep understanding of client needs. More than anything, this milestone is a reflection of the entire PE industry, where it wants to go, and how it’s ultimately going to transform ‘business as usual.’”

Adds Katie Marchetti, BluWave Managing Director: “Our mission is to ‘drive alpha with ease’ by connecting our clients with PE-grade resources exactly when they need them, reducing the time-consuming task of identifying and vetting specialized talent. It’s clear that this type of demand is increasing, and we are poised to continue delivering solutions to even more PE funds as we move into 2022.”

For PE funds and portfolio companies looking for value creation and due diligence resources, BluWave provides solutions across every major industry in IT, HR, operations, sales, marketing, and more. To learn more about how they partner with private equity firms, visit

About BluWave

BluWave is a private equity-focused Intelligent Network that leverages technology, proprietary data, and human ingenuity to connect private equity funds and proactively managed companies with best-in-class, PE-grade third-party resources for more efficient and effective due diligence and value creation activities. Visit for more information.

You can view the official press release here.

How BluWave helps PE shrink the world

This month, BluWave founder & CEO, Sean Mooney, had the opportunity to join Devin Matthews on ParkerGale’s Funcast podcast to discuss how BluWave helps PE shrink the world by connecting funds to the exact-fit resources they need when they need them. Sean and Devin discussed how BluWave was born out of a pain Sean experienced during his 20 years in private equity and is made to connect funds to the resources they need when they don’t know who to use or their go-to providers are sold out. They also went into detail on the types of service providers BluWave invites into their network: specialists, spin outs, and independents that have specific capabilities they have provided to past PE firms in niche industries.  

Other topics you can hear discussed in the podcast include how PE is evolving as well as how COVID has accelerated the digital transformation. 

Interested in listening to the whole podcast yourself? Click below. 

BluWave Ranks No. 127 on the 2021 Inc 5000 Annual List of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies

Top Resource for Private Equity Firms Achieved Three-Year Revenue Growth of 3,157 Percent 

BRENTWOOD, TENN., – August 17, 2021 – BluWave, LP, a top resource for private equity firms and their portfolio companies, announces today the company is No. 127 on the annual Inc. 5000 list, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. BluWave’s ranking reflects the company’s achievement of a three-year revenue growth rate of 3,157 percent. Presented by Inc. magazine, the Inc. 5000 is a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment—its independent high-growth businesses. BluWave is on the Inc. 500 and featured in Inc.’s September issue representing the top tier of the Inc. 5000.

Through its invitation-only Intelligent Network, BluWave uses proprietary technology, data, and human ingenuity to expertly connect the world’s leading private equity funds, their portfolio companies, and proactive independent businesses with the best-in-class, PE-grade boutique advisors, independent consultants, and interim executives for their value-creation and due diligence initiatives. BluWave serves more than 500 of the world’s top private equity firms, connecting them with specialized third-party resources in finance, human resources, technology, operations, and market strategy among other functional areas.

“We are honored to be recognized by Inc. magazine and rank among America’s fastest-growing companies,” says Sean Mooney, founder and CEO, BluWave. “We solve one of the biggest problems in the private equity industry and business in general—connecting the world’s most proactive business leaders with perfect-fit third parties for integral due diligence and value creation initiatives at the exact time they are needed—and the market response has been tremendous. Our focus on surpassing exceedingly high standards and delivering differential value fuels our growth.”

Not only have the companies on the 2021 Inc. 5000 been very competitive within their markets, but this year’s list also proved especially resilient and flexible given 2020’s unprecedented challenges. Among the 5,000, the median three-year growth rate soared to 543 percent. Together, those companies added more than 610,000 jobs over the past three years.

About BluWave, LP

Founded in 2016, BluWave is an innovative market network powered by technology, data, and human ingenuity.  Our solution uniquely connects private equity firms, the leadership teams of their portfolio companies, and proactively managed independent companies with exceptional, pre-vetted third parties that can differentially help customers surpass critical business goals. Our invitation-only Intelligent Network represents more than 100 categories and we have connected more than 500 private equity firms with best-in-class resources to help them confidently assess opportunities and build value with speed and certainty. For more information about BluWave, visit our website at

More about Inc., and the Inc. 5000


Companies on the 2021 Inc. 5000 are ranked according to percentage revenue growth from 2017 to 2020. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2017. They must be U.S.-based, privately held, for-profit, and independent—not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies—as of December 31, 2020. (Since then, some on the list may have gone public or been acquired.) The minimum revenue required for 2017 is $100,000; the minimum for 2020 is $2 million. As always, Inc. reserves the right to decline applicants for subjective reasons. Growth rates used to determine company rankings were calculated to three decimal places. There was one tie on this year’s Inc. 5000.  Companies on the Inc. 500 are featured in Inc.’s September issue. They represent the top tier of the Inc. 5000, which can be found at

About Inc. Media

The world’s most trusted business-media brand, Inc. offers entrepreneurs the knowledge, tools, connections, and community to build great companies. Its award-winning multiplatform content reaches more than 50 million people each month across a variety of channels including web sites, newsletters, social media, podcasts, and print. Its prestigious Inc. 5000 list, produced every year since 1982, analyzes company data to recognize the fastest-growing privately held businesses in the United States. The global recognition that comes with inclusion in the 5000 gives the founders of the best businesses an opportunity to engage with an exclusive community of their peers, and the credibility that helps them drive sales and recruit talent. The associated Inc. 5000 Vision Conference is part of a highly acclaimed portfolio of bespoke events produced by Inc. For more information, visit For more information on the Inc. 5000 Vision Conference, visit


Media Contact:

Julie Lilliston

Julie Lilliston Communications LLC


A letter from the CEO on being named the 127th fastest-growing private company according to Inc.

I am extremely proud to share BluWave has been recognized as the 127th fastest-growing private company in the 2021 Inc. 5000 list.  This achievement reflects extremely hard work by our talented and innovative team, a strong sense of pride being in service to others, and the amazing partnerships we’ve earned with hundreds of the world’s best business builders in the private equity industry.

During my nearly 20 years in private equity, my earliest business goal was to reach a partner position at a top private equity fund and do what I could to help other businesses build, grow, and realize their full potential.  Eventually, I reached my goal.  While I found profound satisfaction working with amazing companies and some of the most capable and good people I could ever hope to meet, almost incredulously, there was still something missing.

When I was a kid, I always dreamed of starting a company that made a difference.  After a lifetime of late-night thinking, I finally came up with an idea that solved my problem while in PE.  This idea became BluWave. In 2016, my family and I realized that BluWave could make a difference and we decided to do the seemingly unfathomable… and utterly terrifying.  We decided to spin out of the job I had pursued most of my professional career—to start a company.  We then immediately started bringing in extremely capable team members who could help turn an idea into a reality. In the wind tunnel of life, this decision feels like yesterday.  I’m very proud to acknowledge that we’ve reached a hallmark that I could hardly imagine a few years ago:  becoming one of the top 150 fastest-growing companies in the United States.

Since we started BluWave five years ago, it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  I’ve experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows, often multiple times in the same day.  I’ve also learned a profound amount that I wish I knew before spinning out of private equity.  One of the most important things I’ve learned is the fundamental value and gift of gratitude.

As we reach this hallmark recognition, I’d like to thank the amazing BluWave team that relentlessly serves others in support of their success.  I’d like to thank the exceptional service providers who have created so much value for the businesses we serve.  And last, but certainly not least, I’d like to thank every one of our clients for instilling the trust in us to help make the world a smaller place and bring great together with great during critical times of need.

On behalf of the BluWave team, thank you so very much.  We look forward to doing everything we can to support all our stakeholders to win and succeed more and more in the days and years ahead.



BluWave’s Proprietary Insights Report Shows Private Equity Industry Making Significant Investments In Growth And Development

Private equity Intelligent Network finds 70% of PE activity was focused on value creation initiatives during the first quarter of 2021

NASHVILLE — BluWave, a private equity-focused Intelligent Network, today released new data on how private equity funds and their portfolio companies are allocating resources as the economy turns a corner. The results of the report demonstrate that during Q1 2021 the majority of company leaders prioritized investing in growth and people-oriented specialized groups that could accelerate performance during the economic recovery underway. Value creation activities have increased from 56 percent in Q4 2020 to 70 percent in Q1 2021.

“While the economy seems to be moving in a positive, steady direction, not all companies are recovering at the same rate,” says BluWave founder and CEO, Sean Mooney. “We are seeing the private equity industry making investments to ensure the rising tide is lifting all boats.”

BluWave’s proprietary insights report includes data from thousands of projects initiated by the PE industry. Key findings include:

  • HR and talent remain private equity’s top area of focus, accounting for nearly 39% of all due diligence and value creation initiatives by PE in Q1 2021. Activity levels in HR and talent continue to grow over time, comparatively accounting for 32% of projects in Q1 2020 and 25% of projects in Q1 2019. Within this category, we are seeing significant investments by PE in ESG and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives.
  • Market strategy advisory was PE’s top activity in due diligence during Q1 2021, accounting for nearly 38% of projects. This compares to 24% of activity in Q4 2020. Market strategy advisory is a common, time-tested practice in the PE industry, leveraging insights to inform growth opportunities for new investments. This shift in Q1 2021 signals significant and growing investment activity by private equity across the U.S. and global economies.
  • HR and talent accounted for nearly 45% of PE value creation activities during Q1 2021. This compares to 40% in Q1 2020 and 30% in Q1 2019. The PE industry is taking broad action to bring in people with the right skills to grow and develop companies as Covid begins to recede in the U.S. and a new normal is emerging. BluWave is also seeing strong ongoing investments in operations, sales and marketing, and technology capabilities for portfolio companies.

Adds Katie Marchetti, managing director of BluWave: “We anticipate continued strong investments in value creation in 2021 and are seeing a surge of new investment activities underway as a significant number of business owners seek capital from the private equity industry.”